By Shihar Aneez
COLOMBO (Reuters) – Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews defended the team’s cricketers on Tuesday after recording a statement before police in connection with a match-fixing scandal that has led to the suspension of a bowling coach.
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) handed Anusha Samaranayake a two-month ban on Monday over his relationship with net bowler Gayan Vishwajith, who allegedly approached national team players to under-perform during a test match against West Indies in October.
“Sri Lanka Cricket has received several complaints regarding the close acquaintance of Anusha Samaranayake and the main suspect Gayan Vishwajith, who had approached several national players for the alleged illegal activities of match-fixing,” the SLC said in a statement.
“Pursuant to a preliminary inquiry conducted in this regard, Sri Lanka Cricket has decided to suspend Anusha Samaranayake for a period of two months until further investigations are concluded.
“Gayan Vishwajith has been totally barred from participating in any capacity whatsoever in Sri Lanka Cricket in the future.”
The police’s Financial Crime Investigation Division (FCID) has interviewed wicketkeeper Kusal Perera and leading spinner Rangana Herath about an alleged offer of thousands of dollars to engineer a batting collapse for a West Indies victory in the match at Galle.
“We all want this game to be clean and whoever has done something wrong, we want them to bring before the courts and take certain decisions,” the 28-year-old Mathews told reporters after spending five hours at the FCID.
“As captain of the team I have to mention that the cricketers felt really uncomfortable the last few days because they are the ones who came forward and reported this to ICC (International Cricket Council) and SLC.”
Sri Lanka went on to win the first test by an innings and six runs and the two-match series 2-0 after another victory in Colombo.
Perera, 25, is facing a four-year ban after world governing body the ICC provisionally suspended him for failing an out-of-competition anti-doping test in October.
Sri Lanka Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera suggested last month that Perera could have paid the price for reporting the alleged match-fixing offer and said the country would appeal against the wicketkeeper’s suspension.
“Both players (Perera and Herath) had been approached by some people to lose the second test match against West Indies in Galle last year,” a sports ministry official said.
“Then they both complained to the authorities and the sports minister. Based on the complaints, the FCID started the investigations.”
($1 = 143.8 Sri Lankan rupees)
(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by John O’Brien and Ed Osmond)